D.C. suspends lawyer Steven Donziger after fraud ruling in multibillion-dollar fight against Chevron

By Charmaine Little | Oct 3, 2018

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – On Sept. 14, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended attorney Steven R. Donziger from practicing law in Washington, D.C., effective immediately.

The court's decision comes shortly after the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court suspended Donziger’s license in the state of New York in July. Considering New York and Washington, D.C., were the only jurisdictions in which Donziger was licensed to practice law, he is no longer allowed to practice law at all. 

Both decisions come as a result of Donziger’s allegedly illegal and unethical activity.

It was also proposed Donziger’s suspension be stayed pending the outcome of his disciplinary proceedings in New York.

For the New York suspension, the Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) sought to have him suspended saying he was “guilty of professional misconduct in violation of former Code of Professional Responsibility,” according the New York Appellate Division of the Supreme Court's July 10 decision.

While Donziger tried to appeal the decision and said he wasn’t given a fair trial, the AGC made it clear that wasn’t the case considering the complex details of the long-lasting trial. 

It added, “Because Judge [Lewis A. Kaplan’s] findings constitute uncontroverted evidence of serious professional misconduct which immediately threatens the public interest, respondent should be immediately suspended.”

Kaplan’s findings were from Donziger’s conduct while he represented a number of citizens from Ecuador who sued Chevron Corp. in Ecuador for alleged pollution.

The ruling, which was a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. was later found to be a result of fraud and racketeering activity and even unenforceable, Legal Newsline previously reported. 

The Southern District of New York determined Donziger participated in coercion, bribery, money laundering among other things. While Donziger attempted to get the judgement vacated, the Second Circuit court made it clear it was unmoved.

During the seven-week RICO and fraud trial, Chevron presented what it describes as “unrebutted evidence” detailing the extent of the fraudulent acts undertaken and directed by Donziger, his Ecuadorian legal team and other associates, including fabricating environmental evidence, pressuring scientific experts to falsify reports, plotting to intimidate judges into handing down favorable rulings, bribing court-appointed experts, ghostwriting court reports and even drafting the final judgment.

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Chevron U.S.A. District of Columbia Court of Appeals

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